U.S. Caselaw in Google Scholar

Last night, an important new feature launched on Google Scholar: more than 80 years of US federal caselaw (including tax and bankruptcy courts) and over 50 years of state caselaw is now fully searchable online, for free at Google Scholar.

This project is the culmination of much work, led by a remarkable engineer at Google named Anurag Acharya. Shortly after I arrived at Google, I heard about a small group of people working to make legal information available through Google. Given my background, I was particularly interested to see if there was a role for me – and thanks to Google’s culture of encouraging employees finding 20% projects to contribute to, I was able to not only find a role but to dive in.

It’s been a thrill to be part of this project, but most importantly it’s exhilarating to know that for the first time, US citizens have the ability to search for – and read – the opinions that govern our society. Matt DeVries, a law school roommate, has a great overview of what this means for him as a lawyer here. Tim Stanley, a pioneer in this space who I first met when he built a search engine to index the articles published in the law journal I founded, said simply, “Thanks, Google!” and then did a good job evaluating what Scholar does (and doesn’t) do with the opinions. Rex Gradeless, a law student, pointed out that while this may be of interest for lawyers and law students, the real winner here is citizens who’ve historically not had comprehensive access to this information at all.

It probably goes without saying, but in case it’s not abundantly clear: working at a company that embraces projects like this is incredible. This was a labor of love for a number of co-workers (past and present), all of whom instinctively grasped why this is important and how connected it is to Google’s mission. I’m very proud to work at Google today.